The state government of Meghalaya has suggested that all projects or activities concerning national defense and security be done in consultation with the state.
This was one among the comments submitted by the state government on the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2020, which was laid by the Minister in-charge of Forests & Environment, James K Sangma in the Assembly during the question hour on Tuesday.
Stating that the draft further exempts a large category of other projects from public consultation, the state government said, “The exemption in relation to all projects or activities concerning national defence and security or involving other strategic considerations as determined by the central government may perhaps be rephrased to read -all projects or activities concerning national defence and security or involving other strategic considerations as determined by the central government in consultation with the state government concerned where the project or activity is located.”
It also said that the list of activities listed under B2 category needs to be restricted to only those listed in the EIA notification, 2006.
According to the government, most of the category of projects excluded from public consultation in the draft EIA notification, 2020 find mention in EIA notification, 2006 too.
However, because the list of activities considered under Eb2 Category have expanded, which stand excluded from public consultation, therefore in ultimate analysis the number of projects/activities excluded from public consultation have increased considerably.
The state government has also suggested the need to restore the period of 45 days for public consultation and the notice period of 30 days provided to the public in EIA notification, 2006.
It said the proposed validity of environmental clearance for mining projects to a maximum of 50 years or up to period of validity of mining lease should be in sync with the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation), Act, 1957.
According to the MMDR Act, the maximum period for which mining lease granted shall not exceed 30 years and which may be renewed for a further period not exceeding 20 years.
Besides, restoration of the exemption of EIA/EMP for minor mineral projects up to 5 hectares was also sought in the EIA notification, 2020.
Meanwhile, the state government has also urged the central government to exclude the application of the general conditions (GC) for community reserves (CRs) among the protected areas (PAs).
Stating that the state has so far notified 70 community reserves under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, it said that the provision relating to GC governing the PAs if retained in respect of the CRs too would be detrimental to further declaration of community owned land in Meghalaya as CRs since these CRs which are spread across the state would pose deterrence to developmental, industrial and mining projects located within the prescribed distance from the boundary of these CRs considering that a large portion of land within the state would fall within the restricted zone.
Pointing out that the state shares a long border with Assam, the state government said application of GC in respect of inter-state boundary would be enormously prejudicial to the interest of the state notwithstanding that category B2 projects are excluded from the purview of GC.
“Therefore, it is requested that the provision for exclusion of GC through mutual understanding between the contiguous states contained in EIA notification, 2006 may kindly be retained in the EIA notification, 2020 too since there does not seem to be any reasonable cause for its exclusion,” it said.